“Fabrics can do more than just unite an interior scheme,” says Toyine Sellers, a South Africa-born, Sweden- and France-based interior designer turned textile creator. “When uniquely designed, they can be the focus of a room.” Such is the case with all of Sellers’ distinctive, contemporary furnishing fabrics, which are produced in her eponymous atelier near Lyon by a small team of skilled artisans on traditional mechanical looms, and characterised by their innovative use of colour and yarn (fabrics from around €450 per metre; rugs from around €1,800 per metre). Take a recent commission for a residential project by interior designer Bryan O’Sullivan, for which Sellers wove together leather, wool, chenille and Lurex to create a wonderfully textured, multi-hued rug for a classically furnished dining room; or a bespoke upholstery fabric, created for New York interior designer Brian McCarthy, in linen and turquoise Lurex interlaced with raffia.
Sellers’ penchant for experimenting with unusual yarns is down to a combination of extensive design knowledge and total lack of formal training in weaving. “I am very demanding about the quality and beauty of my work,” she says, “but I like imperfection because it adds spontaneous character, and I often tell the trained weavers I work with to unlearn what they were taught and let mistakes happen.”
It’s an approach that gives her work a real freshness and also means she enjoys a bespoke challenge. “Our only limitations are the width of our looms and the size of the order – producing less than 5m-10m of custom fabric makes the cost prohibitive – but after that, we can create almost anything.” To date, the most complex fabric she and her team have made is an ombre weave that fades from brown, through yellow and into grey for corner screens in the bar of a Parisian luxury hotel. “We had 18 yarn changes in a 4m panel,” Sellers says. “It was quite a production!”
The fabric may have been commissioned by Paris-based interior designer and gallerist Chahan Minassian, but it is also unmistakably Toyine Sellers. This is important. “I always want to meet my client’s vision,” she says, “but whatever we are making must also appeal to my colour and design sensibilities. After all, we are creating individual works of art.”